This shiur should be a merit for the health and success of the families of Regina bas Yosef Reuven and Yeshaya ben Yisroel Binyamin Wolf ben Tzvi Hirsch, and Baruch ben Binyamin Wolf, to have aliyas neshama from this shiur.
I wanted to continue what I was speaking of last week but tonight and tomorrow is Asara b’Teves—10th day of the month of Teves and, in certain ways, based on a certain halacha, it seems to be the most severe fast day of all. There’s an Avadrom that says—he’s an early posek—that if Asara b’Teves falls on Shabbat, you’d have to fast on Shabbos. We know that any fast day that falls on Shabbos is moved—it’s called a “nidche”—and moved to Sunday. But he brings down, and he says, that Asara b’Teves is so severe that, even if it fell on Shabbat when, obviously, you’re not supposed to fast, you’d have to fast.
We have to ask ourselves why that is. We know, in general, what happened on Asara b’Teves. It marks the beginning of the process of the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash. The wall of Jerusalem was surrounded by the enemy and that became the initial attempt by the goyim to destroy the Temple. That’s, historically, what happened. Then it took time and, finally, on Tisha b’Av it was destroyed. Why would something like this be so severe that, if it happened on Shabbos, we’d still have to fast. That’s unheard of regarding any other taanis—fast day, which is rabbinical. If Yom Kippur occurs on Shabbat, we know we’d have to fast anyway, but that’s Yom Kippur, and it’s according to Torah. All the rabbinically-ordained fast days, of which there are four, you don’t have to fast if it comes out on Shabbos, even Tisha b’Av. The fast is moved to Sunday. Why is Asara b’Teves so much more severe than Tisha b’Av?
The beginning campaign to destroy the Temple on that date started; this we know. There is something we know which I’ve mentioned, that the mazal—fortune of Esav, of Edom, is several times per year. That’s when Esav has a special power to prosecute the Jewish people if they sin. The mazal of Esav is very strong in Teves and half of Shvat until Tu b’Shvat—15th of Shvat. It’s also strong in Tammuz and half of the next month, Av. On Tu b’Shvat the mazal of Esav/Edom ends and that begins the mazal of Yosef. During Tammuz, and half of Av, the mazal of Esav is, again, very strong and it ends on chamisha asar b’Av—15th of the month of Av which is a fortuitous day for the Jewish people.
So it makes sense that it’s a severe day as it’s the beginning of the destruction begins in Teves. That’s why, and the Beis Ha’Mikdash is the main focus of Judaism, where the shechina—Divine Presence resides. Clearly then, there would be major kitrugim—prosecutions against the Jewish people in that month. We understand the timing of this, of the concept of Asara b’Teves.
We understand the events, but the question is: why is it so severe? Historically, that is the beginning of the campaign to destroy the Beis Ha’Mikdash due to the sins of the Jews but the meaning of the day is really something unique. We can ask: when was the g’zera—decree by G-D in the heavenly tribunal issued that the Beis Ha’Mikdash would be destroyed?
What we realize is that the decree happened on Asara b’Teves. That decree was the beginning of the campaign and, therefore, it was the time of the decree. The real aspect of the Temple’s destruction, the most significant time, is not just when it was destroyed; it’s when the decree for its destruction was issued. Therefore, the day of the decree is Asara b’Teves and is, therefore, of great significance. The actual destruction is just a formality. The Ribono Shel Olam called for its destruction based on the decree that it must be destroyed, so the worst day of all is when the decree is issued.
Chazal—sages have different ideas about the sins, the precepts that were violated, for which one should sacrifice one’s life rather than commit them. They are: avoda zara—idol worship, gilui aroyot—incest/adultery, and retzicha—murder. The Jews committed these sins says the Gemara, so it was decreed that the Beis Ha’Mikdash should be destroyed. We now understand that when the decree is promulgated, issued, is worse even than when the decree issued in heaven is fulfilled.
Very interesting is a chazal that says that the decree to build the third Beis Ha’Mikdash will also be issued on Asara b’Teves, the very day the decree was issued to be destroyed! So, we could imagine that, in heaven, right now or tomorrow, the matter of the third Beis Ha’Mikdash is being talked about: well, do we want the third Beis Ha’Mikdash to be built? The deliberation in the court is happening now or tomorrow, or whatever. We have to hope that the decree will be that the Beis Ha’Mikdash has to be rebuilt; when it will be rebuilt is a formality. The key is to get heaven to issue the decree that it has to be built. Generally, the year that the decree is issued is the year in which it is built. Let’s hope that today, or tomorrow, or tonight, now, on Asara b’Teves, the decree comes on the very same date on which the decree to destroy it occurred. Let’s hope that the heavenly tribunal will decide that the Jews have had enough of the galus—exile, that the tikkun--rectification process is almost complete in terms of the exile and the suffering and, therefore, the Ribono Shel Olam will decree that He wants the third Beis Ha’Mikdash to be built. Let’s hope that tomorrow we will actually witness that decree, that something significant will happen to indicate this.
These are the concepts of Asara b’Teves. If Teves, the month of Edom/Esav’s fortunes, is the time of the decree to rebuild, it indicates a reversal of Esav’s fortune, the overturning of the power of Esav to rule. We do see good signs. In Eretz Yisrael we see the beginning of a new government devoid of the participation of, the dominance of, the Eirev Rav, the Progressive Left. The government was sworn in during the month of Teves, the last week of Chanukah, so that’s a very good sign. This is number one.
The second sign is that, even in America, which is Edom/Esav, the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives tomorrow on January 3rd which is Asara b’Teves! This, hopefully, will mean the beginning of the end of the power of the Eirev Rav of America, Esav, the ra she’b’Esav—the evil aspect of Esav. It’s so interesting that on Asara b’Teves is when this new Congress begins since the mid-term elections.
So, let’s hope that we will see the rebuilding of the Beis Ha’Mikdash this year which, effectively, ends the galus—exile. Tomorrow, really, in that sense, is really a very good day.
Remez—Allusion to Kings of Edom
There is a very interesting remez—allusion, clue, which I’d like to share. At the end of the Torah portion “Vayishlach,”—we’re in the story of Yosef in Egypt, a difficult story to understand—and it furthers the topic I’ve been talking about, the story of Ya’akov and Esav, the hidden story, the secret, the mystery of what’s going with Ya’akov and Esav.
By the end of this parasha—Torah portion “VaYishlach,” it says, “Ele ha’melachim”—these are the kings “asher malchu b’eretz Edom”—that reigned in the Land of Edom, the land of Esav. When did they reign? The Torah continues and says, “lifnei meloch melech b’Yisrael”—before there reigned a king in Israel. The Torah lists eight of the kings. These are the kings that emerged from Edom/Esav in Har Seir, Mount Seir, before there reigned a Jewish king in Israel.
What is interesting is the reference to Edomic kings in the plural, as “kings.” It says, “These are the kings,” whereas, pertaining to Israel, it refers to “king,” singular, one. The Torah is intimating what is to happen at the End of Time. Who’s the king that will rule at the End of Time? The Torah intimates that, before Yosef, the Mashiach ben Yosef, will rule, the worst part of Esav, the eight kings will rule. According to Kabbalah, seven of these kings are totally evil, very bad people, classic models of Esav himself. The seven, by the way, represent the seven levels of evil, called the “shivas ha’keilim”— broken vessels—without getting into that. The last king’s name is “Hadar ha’Melech”—King Hadar. He was the eighth king. The Zohar says that, by all the previous seven kings of Edom mentioned in the Torah, it says, by each one of them that he reigned, “v’yomos”—and he died. By this eighth king, Hadar, it doesn’t say that he died, only that he reigned.
Also, it mentions the wife of this king, Mehitavel. It doesn’t do that by the other kings. Can we see a significance to these distinctions, some secret? It seems to be saying that, before there reigns a king in Israel, which is the next parasha about Yosef, which alludes to Mashiach ben Yosef, there will reign eight kings in Edom. The last king, as I just mentioned, for whom it doesn’t say “v’yomos,” will reverse the evil of the previous seven. It’s as if the eighth king lives on. Hadar mehader—reverses. That’s what the Zohar says.
The Manifestation in Our Time
When the Soviet Union collapsed on December 25-26, 1991, I wondered what the significance of that was, perhaps in connection with seven evil kings of Edom who reigned but the eighth king, Hadar ha’Melech reversed that trend. I thinking about this being an allusion to a kabbalistic phenomenon called the “sheviras ha’keilim”—the breaking of the vessels.
I was wondering about the significance of that when G-D did something I found interesting. I was in the subway and the Ribono Shel Olam “had the New York Times,” so to speak, someone had left it on the bench so I picked it up just to glance at that day’s news. The big story was that, on the previous day, Gorbachev resigned—that was December 25th—and the Times listed all the previous Russian presidents, the entire list of the leaders of the communist regime.
The first named was Lenin—we’ve all heard of him. The second was Stalin. The third leader—I think in 1953 after Stalin died—was Malenkov. The fourth one, who became famous, is Khrushchev. He was a loud and dramatic character. The fifth was Brezhnev, and the sixth was Andropov. The seventh was Chernenko. Who was the eighth?—Gorbachev. He recently died, by the way. He corresponds to the eighth “king of Edom” since the Bolshevik Revolution of the early 20th century.
What had he done before resigning? The concepts of “glasnost” and “perestroika” were issued in 1986 or 1987, the reversal of the Soviet regime affording Russian society more liberty, more freedom. So, Gorbachev corresponds to the eighth Edomic king who reversed the regimes of the previous seven. He advocated for Russia becoming a more open society. Does Gorbachev correspond to Hadar ha’Melech, he who reverses the evil? This correspondence means that, as the Zohar points out, there then has to be a king in Israel, Mashiach ben Yosef.
A Stunning Numerological Confirmation
I asked somebody who is very skilled in matters of gematria—Hebrew numerology, the numerological value of Hebrew words. I asked if there is an allusion in gematria of “Hadar ha’Melech” to “Gorbachev”? If so, it’s called “bingo!” Based on how it’s spelled in Hebrew, I think it came out that “Gorbachev” is “303.” The numerological value of “Hadar ha’Melech” is 304. This seeming discrepancy of a “one” is easily accounted for because you’re allowed to add the value of “one” for the word itself. Each letter has a value and the word itself counts as “one.” So, bingo! This meant that the name of Gorbachev is alluded to in the Torah written 3,300 years ago. That’s absolutely astounding!
The Evolution of Esav/Edom
Why would the Soviet communist regime be in the Torah? If you recall, I’ve said that Esav had three characteristics, first as a deceiver, an imposter, a mirameh b’peh. He was also a baal taavah—“master” of arrogance, conceit, despising the birthright, despising his role of embodying spirituality within the family structure. Last, he was a hedonist, a lover of pleasure.
Esav became Edom, the Edomites. Edom became Rome and, as the Gemara says, “Edom zu Romi,” and Rome became Christianity which took over the heritage of Esav. Ultimately, Western Civilization became the bearer of Christianity.
The three characteristics I’ve cited are borne out in three major sections of Western Civilization. The worst aspect of Western Civilization was the Soviet Union regime under communism, its arrogance and atheism, its being a baalei gaavah. Originally, Russia was aligned with Christianty through the Russian Orthodoxy, a church that the Bolshevik revolution overthrew. The revolution ushered in atheism. Ironically, the Soviet collapsed on December 25th, Christmas, the very day they celebrate the birth of the person they worship. Gorbachev nullified the Soviet Union’s existence on that day ndicating the fall of Esav. This is exactly what the Torah says.
The second characteristic of Esav is reflected in Europe, its fraudulence. Europe has killed more people in the name of their “benevolent” religion, I think, than all wars combined. Christianity a religion of brutal conquest. While it preached love and “turn the other cheek” Its hallmarks have been those of torture, crusades, pogroms, inquisitions, all fueled by Christianity. Europe has long been known for the horrors it perpetrated over the past two thousand years.
Then there’s America which represents the last aspect of Esav, the taavah, the pleasure-seeking aspect.
The Torah seems to be alluding to, in a certain sense prophesying, that when the last aspect of Esav collapses, that’s when Hadar ha’Melech, the eighth king of Edom, takes over and reverses the evil of the previous seven which is what Gorbachev did when he terminated the Soviet Union, politically. That was the end of the worst part of Esav and this will precede beginning of Mashiach ben Yosef.
Yosef, and Ya’akov’s Completion of the Task
This is what is alluded to at the end of the parasha “VaYishlach” before the story of Yosef. Yosef didn’t have to be kidnapped. He could have gone down to Egypt another way and it could have been a totally different storyline than that of a Jew kidnapping another Jew because of his dreams, of being sold into slavery, of winding up in the house of Potiphar, of resisting temptation with Potiphar’s wife as a test, of interpreting Pharoah’s dream. Then, astoundingly, he becomes Grand Vizir. It’s a classic, almost like a Hollywood movie. It has all the drama, the mystery, the intrigue. How do we uncover the hidden story?
One of the questions that must be asked is why Yosef had to be kidnapped. The Ribono Shel Olam wanted to conceal where Yosef was in the mind of Ya’akov so he wouldn’t know his whereabouts. As far as he Ya’akov was concerned, as the brothers told him, Yosef died, was killed by an animal. They dipped his clothing, his coat, in blood and showed it to Ya’akov. They asked if he recognized it and he realized that, yes, it’s Yosef’s coat and it’s bloody so he must have been killed by an animal. Why did G-D not want Ya’akov to know where Yosef was, to think him dead, to grieve for twenty-two years after which time he first came to Egypt to meet Yosef again? That’s the question.
As I mentioned last week, the Torah says, “Ele tovos Ya’akov, Yosef” and so on, and “Vayeshev Ya’akov,”—and Ya’akov dwelt indicating that Ya’akov was tired and just wanted to live a peaceful life after what he’d been through with Esav, then Dina’s abduction by Shechem, and then Yosef’s being gone. He wanted to—I hate to use the word—"relax,” to take it easy. One could think: what do you mean? Tzaddikim don’t take it easy, don’t go on vacations? It’s one thing to want to, for a week or two, go to a hotel just to relax, refresh yourself and then get back into doing mitzvos but Ya’akov seemed to want to do it for the rest of his life. The Ribone Shel Olam says to that: What do you mean you want to take off, want to relax? That’ll come in Olam Ha’Ba—Future World. This world is a world of work, being involved in tikkun. You can’t retire for the rest of your life.
That brought on the whole problem of Yosef, the entire drama of Yosef. Our question is: how could Ya’akov think this way? A tzadik doesn’t think to take off for the rest of his life. Imagine a chassidische rebbe saying: well, I want to take off and relax for the rest of my life. I’m giving up the “rabbiste” the chassidic court.... We don’t hear that sort of thing, of course not! How could Ya’akov Avinu who was much greater, obviously, than chassidic rebbes, say this? It’s difficult to understand. It’s true he had a lot of tzuris—hardships, but he understood that this is a world of work. So, what was Ya’akov alluding to?
The truth is very interesting and I mentioned some of the ideas before but, to be again familiar, we know that there are four avos—patriarchs: Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya’akov, and Esav, and each had a mission. Ya’akov’s was to “yoshev b’ohalim”—sit in tents to bring down kedusha. The work of Esav as a patriarch was to go “into the field,” be, as the Torah says, “ish sadeh—man of the field” to subdue evil and destroy the Satan and remain righteous even in a world filled with tumah—impurity, defilement. The problem was that Esav succumbed to the temptations of the Satan and he became evil, which we know. So, Ya’akov took over his job, which we also know, in order to complete the job of the fourth av. Therefore, he had to go into the field, leave the beis midrash life, so to speak, and go “into the field” which was the house of Lavan and yet remain a tzaddik.
We also now know that Ya’akov had an opportunity to bring Esav back, which I explained, that Esav could have done teshuva but, for whatever reason, Ya’akov missed that indication and didn’t offer him Dina, as I also mentioned. Therefore, Esav returned “l’darko”—to his path, meaning “to his evil ways.”
Even though Ya’akov took over the job of Esav, seemingly completing it—it seemed that way—but there remained a major problem in the avoda—service vis-a-vis taking over Esav’s mission. He was going to meet Esav along with the four-hundred men who were accompanying him, ostensibly, to kill him. Ya’kov was, we’re told, extremely afraid. Why? He wasn’t afraid of Esav’s prowess—no. He was frightened about the spiritual superiority of Esav in the “area” of Esav’s service of honoring his father and mother, kibud av v’eim during the time he, Ya’akov was gone to the house of Lavan and while Esav remained at home, able to do so. Ya’akov, therefore, was unable to equal his brother in such service. We assume he didn’t visit his father in all the years he was in Charan so he was deficient in doing that mitzvah. Esav, therefore, had far greater merit than Ya’akov in this regard.
That's very bad because Ya’akov Avinu's job is to do what?—to take over the job of Esav and establish extraordinary superiority over Esav. Instead, Esav now has a tremendous advantage over Ya’akov, having honored his father far more than Ya’akov Avinu was able to. In fact, ChaZaL tell us that Esav was the greatest person who ever lived in terms of honoring his father and mother, certainly his father. So, the problem was that, even though Ya’akov is now coming to meet Esav, and he completed the job of Esav entering into the “fields of tumah” and remaining righteous, thereby mightily subduing the Satan who was the angel he fought before meeting Esav. Despite that victory, Esav retained a substantial credit of kibud av over him.
That flaw would be very difficult for Jews to overcome. That will always enable Esav to be victorious in judgement between him and Ya’akov because he could always say: they don't come close to my merit in kibud av at all, so I should win this court case in Heaven. The Ribono Shel Olam knew, of course, that such a situation could not be allowed to continue, could not allow Esav to retain such superior merit over Ya’akov. Ya’akov was terribly afraid that maybe Esav would win in court and the court would decide that he Esav, could kill Ya’akov Avinu or seriously injure him. That's why Ya’akov was afraid.
Actually, the Targum answers the question as to why Ya’akov was afraid. It cites Esav’s honoring of his father. Ya’akov had done the mammoth job of completing Esav’s task. The residual problem was that, since he’d not been home, Esav had this vastly superior merit over Ya’akov that would always be a thorn in the side not only of Ya’akov but in that of all Jewish descendants because it would give Esav's descendants consistent superiority over the descendants of Ya’akov; that’s very bad.
Once we understand all of this, we now understand something very important, where it says “vayeshev,” meaning Ya’akov wanted to retire. What does that mean? Of course, he didn't want to retire; tzadikim don't retire but, in his mind, he had completed the job of Esav and wanted to retire from Esav’s job and go back to his own job of kedusha, of bringing down holiness. Of course, he had to continue the avodah itself! That's what he was thinking, to retire just from the job of Esav, which is the k’fias ha’ra—subjugation of evil by remaining righteous. He was correct, especially since the job of Esav, or half of it, would be given to Yosef, which I mentioned. He wanted only to end the task of supplanting Esav and return to the avodah—service of worshipping G-D with mitzvos in terms of hishpastus kedusha—bringing down holiness, yoshev b’ohalim, remaining in the tent. That's what he wanted to do because he thought that he’d completed Esav’s job. What else is there to do?
As for the part that he did not complete because, like I once said, no one man, patriarch, can do the job of two patriarchs, Yosef would take on that portion Ya’akov didn’t. Remember, Ya’akov only did half, but he completed his half, and the other half he would give out to Yosef. He, Ya’akov, certainly completed his half.
But the Ribono Shel Olam said: no, because you left Esav with an extraordinary merit over you and your descendants. You need to repair that!
How did G-D repair that? G-D ordained that Yosef would take over half of job of Esav making Yosef a chatziav—half a patriarch. He, as per Esav’s task, has to go into what's called the “klippah,” go into the evil field. Yosef has to go and become the ish sadeh, the man of the field. That's why Yosef had to go to Egypt, to remain a tzadik in the tumah of Egypt, doing the same thing Ya’akov did by going to the house of Lavan.
The main idea is that Ribono Shel Olam could have construed matters so that Yosef went to Egypt to remain because, let's say he was offered, for whatever historical reason, to become the Grand Vizir; it doesn't take much for the Ribono Shel Olam to arrange that; it takes nothing at all. Ya’akov would have known that Yosef was down in Egypt doing a fabulous job. But the Ribono Shel Olam said: no, you need a kapparah, an atonement, because Esav has a much greater merit in his honoring of his father, which is a terrible detriment to the Jewish people.
Therefore, what the Ribono Shel Olam did is incredible; G-D had Yosef in Egypt doing the job of Esav without Ya’akov knowing it, thinking Yosef was dead, killed by an animal, and that for twenty-two years! For the twenty-two years that he did not serve his father, Ya’akov was denied the service of Yosef. That was Ya’akov’s sacrifice which is interesting.
Do you see what the Ribono Shel Olam does? Not only does G-D give the opportunity for klal Yisrael to do the tikkun, He makes certain they're protected. Esav had this tremendous advantage over Ya’akov and his descendants, that he honored his father. Since Ya’akov didn't do anywhere near what Esav did, and to protect the Jewish people from the kitrugim, the prosecutions of the Satan who is Esav/Edom’s angel, G-D had to make sure Ya’akov earned a kapparah. For this, G-D caused Yosef's travel to Egypt to be concealed from Ya’akov. As a result, the pain and grief that Ya’akov felt at the loss of Yosef set up the situations of Yosef being denied the opportunity to serve his father for twenty-two years and the suffering which sufficiently removed Ya’akov’s disadvantage.
In fact, what's interesting is that, when Ya’akov was apprised of the fact that Yosef was alive, he said: good and, “Let me go to Egypt before I die, to see Yosef.” It says that, before he left for Egypt, he sacrificed on an altar “L’elokei avicha” (Genesis 46:1)—to the G-D of his father. Why didn't he say “to the G-D of Avraham Avinu,” his grandfather? He realized why G-D concealed the fate of Yosef from him; it was to allow him to have a kapparah--atonement from his not having served his father for twenty-two years. He immediately made up for that by offering a sacrifice to G-D in terms of—what?—in terms of this being the G-D of his father Yitzhak. This would invoke an inordinate merit for Yitzhak. This we now understand.
In this week's parasha, “Vayechi,” it says “vayechi Ya’akov”—and Ya’akov lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years and then he died, which is what the parasha talks about. Shouldn’t it have said “v’yeshev Ya’akov”—and Ya’akov dwelt in Egypt for seventeen years? What does it mean “and Ya'akov lived”? Once Ya’akov realized that G-D afforded him, though it was terrible grief, a kapparah for the kibud av v'em that he did not do, he also realized that he had, indeed, completed, totally, the job of Esav which he’d had to assume when Esav became a rasha.
That was the tikkun he did and therefore “he lived.” Why?—because he’d completed something which was incredibly difficult, to go into what's called the “tumah” and survive, remaining righteous. Therefore, it doesn't say that he dwelt in Egypt; he lived in Egypt, implying the idea that he’d successfully done the tikkun of Esav's job. He truly completed the job of Esav, annulling Esav’s superior merit from his service of kibud av v'em.
The Hashkafa Honoring One’s Parents
What G-D gave Ya’akov Avinu is the astounding concept of a kapparah that serves as a protection for the Jewish people because Esav doesn’t have that claim against Ya’akov. He does have it, however, as a merit for himself and for his descendants and who knows if that's not one of the ideas as to why the descendants of Esav rule the entire world. When a person observes the mitzvah of kibud av, he submits to the authority, the beliefs, the tradition of his father and mother, his parents. The reward of having submitted to the authority of your parents, the mitzvah of kibud av v'em, is that of being an authority over others. That's the measure-for-measure doctrine in the mechanism of “din”—justice G-D created. You who admit to such authority, honoring your father and mother, are to be rewarded in that you, yourself, become an authority over others.
Who can know to what extent Esav’s great honoring of his parents earned him, as manifest by Rome, the great merit to rule the entire world? The fact that Rome ruled for so many hundreds of years having become a republic in 525 BCE and remaining a power until its collapse around 400 CE suggests this dynamic. That’s a long time! We're looking at almost nine hundred years of Rome’s existence. Who knows if the real reason for that is because Esav was so great in kibud av. That could very well be why Rome ruled the world for a thousand years.
The Ribono Shel Olam had to take that merit from Esav in terms of his being vastly superior to Ya’akov, an eminence we see in Ya’akov’s fear when he's about to meet Esav, that may have the merit to actually harm him or kill him so look what the Ribono Shel Olam did. To save Ya’akov and his descendants, He made sure that Ya’akov would complete the entire job, even if it meant that He would “take Yosef,” hiding the fact that Yosef was still alive. But, Ya’akov wouldn't know that. Imagine how much he loved Yosef, as the Torah says, more than—it's hard to say, but—more than the other children. Certainly, his grief was enormous. In fact, he never really got over the grief of the what he perceived as the death of Yosef. We see that from the Torah. It was all for a kapparah for Ya’akov Avinu.
One of the things we can learn from this is how G-D takes care of the Jewish people, that He's very careful because He knows what the results will be, what the consequences are if evil people, rishoim like Esav, actually have a legitimate complaint, could say: well, I'm superior to you in spirituality. That's very dangerous because, in the end, that's the critical factor, spirituality, not whether or not you have more weapons or better training. All of that is irrelevant. It's: what is your merit in front of Me, G-D says. The problem is, like I said, Esav had such supremacy of merit and, therefore, G-D protected Ya’akov and all his descendants.
So this has been to “shape up” the story of Ya’akov and Esav, to explain why and how, in many ways, these events had to take place. It was in order for Ya’akov to complete, really complete, his part in the job of Esav. There are many other ideas which are very difficult to understand and which I will explain, hopefully, next week.
Q & A
Participant: I have a question. This is really interesting, about the merits. I remember once, Rabbi, you said that America has a lot of merits for Mother's Day and Father's Day but, one time, you were saying something like America could be punished as a country, but do the merits go to Esav or to the country?
R’Kessin: Remember that America, in many ways, is one of the descendants of Esav, in that sense, certainly the philosophy of America. Much of it has to do with what America does because America does a great deal of chesed, acts of kindness, so it has significant spiritual claims; that's certainly true.
Participant: So then America still has merits to stand, maybe.
R'Kessin: Oh, yes, sure it does. America has hundreds of years of merits. Also, one of the greatest merits of America is that Torah is learnt in America, the freedom it’s given for Jews to be able to learn Torah in America, a merit which is incredible. It's not just the chesed; a great deal of the Torah that the Jews learn in America based on freedom of religion serves as a tremendous merit to America. G-D takes all of that into account.
Participant: Also, when you were talking about Yosef, when he knew that he did the tikkun of Esav, do we have a way...
R’Kessin: You mean Ya’akov.
Participant: Yosef completed it, right? He completed the tikkun.
R’Kessin: Yes, he had the second part.
Participant: But did he know? Do we have a way to know if we've completed a tikkun?
R’Kessin: Do we have a way?—maybe. Yes, maybe G-D, in some way, gives that message to a person but he has to be able to “read it.” G-D will always make sure that you complete your tikkun, because He wants to give you Olam Ha’ba, which means you have to finish your job. If you don't finish, you come back.
We see that the whole story is not arbitrary. Everything is for a reason in order to help the Jews do the tikkun. It’s a very important story in terms of how the Creation runs. People don't realize how pivotal the story of Ya’akov and Esav is, and how much it influences world history. Just take a look at Gorbachev, what the Torah says about that, because the Soviet Union is really from Esav.
Participant: So maybe when you quoted, “Edom zu Romi,” that Rome became Christianity, do you think that, because the Queen passed away and now the pope passed away, these are connected to something happening?
R’Kessin: Yes. He was 95-years-old; Benedict died. The pope is the king, the prince, of Christianity. He rules instead of their person.
Participant: But he was a retired pope.
R’Kessin: He was retired, I think, because of a scandal. He was forced to retire, right?
Participant: He was still living in the Vatican.
R’Kessin: Yes. He was like a pseudo-pope. It’s like a retirement place where they put their old folks, in...
Participant: ...an old-age home.
Participant: Can you go back a little bit? In the very beginning you were talking about Asarab'Tevet in such a way like it's the most... I've heard it before in which people say: well, it's like a little fast and then that's why we don't have to start this out... tomorrow.
R’Kessin: Right, that's why I brought it down. So, all fast days are not the whole day, except Tisha b'Av, but it's a very significant fast, like I said.
Participant: I don't think that it's really talked as being as significant as you just made it. It sounds like this is really something special, as if we should really be crying tomorrow and now.
R’Kessin: Yes, because that's when the decree was issued by the court, the heavenly tribunal, to destroy the temple. That's terrible, right?
Participant: So, right now they're basically adjudicating to see if we have the merit?
R’Kessin: Right, exactly. That's why we have to hope that, finally, they're going to say: okay, we're going to build the Beis HaMikdash. because, if they do say that, it's going to happen this year. We know their judgment isn't an “if”; it's a “when.”
Participant: But is Mashiach ben Yosef in the picture, be ready before they make that decree?
R’Kessin: We don't know; he would know. What I'm saying is that it's not a matter of “if” they will give the decree. We know they will eventually give the decree that the Beis HaMikdash has to be built because it's part of his entry as machiach. The question is—when? What we're hoping is that tomorrow, which is Asara B'Tevet, in the daytime, that will be the decree to build the Beis Ha’Mikdash which is, automatically, the decree that it will happen this year. It’s awesome automatically as decree that we will now prepare Mashiach ben Yosef, right?
Participant: When you say it is his entry to be the mashiach, what do you mean by that? At what level or form of mashiach would it be that we would see it with our eyes, meaning... Doesn't he have to have somewhat of a popularity before the Beis HaMikdash would even come down? Don't they say that it comes down on Tisha B'Av?
R’Kessin: Well, like I say, what we need is the decree and that can happen tomorrow. When it comes down, it's the actual fulfillment of that decree, but the real concept is the “decree” itself because then it happens. Without that decree, it doesn't happen. What we're hoping is that tomorrow is the decree that the Beis Ha’Mikdash will be built this year and Mashiach ben Yosef will be freed from his klippah, his prison, the suffering that he goes through in order to allow the Jewish people to be redeemed to bring an end to the exile; that's what we're hoping.
Participant: I just want to understand it correctly. So, in order for the mashiach to start the actual process, we need the decree of the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt first?
R’Kessin: Well, it could be together.
Participant: ...because I always thought that it was Mashiach ben Yosef first and then the decree for the Beis Ha’Mikdash.
R’Kessin: No, no, because, once you release the Mashiach ben Yosef from his difficulties and sufferings, that automatically means that the Beis Ha’Mikdash will be built. The Beis Ha’Mikdash has to be built before Mashiach ben David. That’s, automatically, of the same decree. The decree is that the exile must end, will end, this year. That's, basically, what it must mean. So, if the exile ends, it implies two things: one is that the Mashiach ben Yosef will be released from his suffering and, number two, that the Beis Ha’Mikdash must be built because that has to happen before Mashiach ben David comes.
Participant: And when, let's say, the decree is issued, G-D-willing, in order for it to come into fruition this year, could it happen next? It has to be this year?
R’Kessin: I believe it has to be this year.
Participant: Is it Avraham Avinu's yortzait tomorrow?
R’Kessin: I don't know.
Participant: It was a few days ago, I think, Friday.
Other participant: About that “Gorbachev is Hadar”..so now we got rid of all the bad leaders. Is now the new one, the good one, coming down? I'm a little lost with that story.
R’Kessin: The main idea is that, before Mashiach ben Yosef comes, these events must take place in which the Soviet Union must collapse because the Soviet Union was the worst aspect of Esav, you see. And what is fascinating is that the eight kings of Edom have been represented by the Soviet Union which had eight presidents. The incredible thing is that “Gorbachev,” in the Hebrew, is the gematria of Hadar Ha’Melech, you see.
Participant: Biden is taking over the evil of Esav.
R’Kessin: Yes, because we are now witnessing a battle between the good part of Esav, which is Trump, and the bad part of Esav, which is the Democratic Party and its minions. Biden is merely a member of the Democratic Party,
The real evil of Esav are the progressive elements, the Democratic Party, the liberals. They are destroying the world and, hopefully, tomorrow, when the new Congress takes over, especially the House, the Republicans will go after all of them. It's very possible they may destroy Biden because, if they find that he took bribes from China, that's treason, not merely a basis for impeachment. It's a charge of “treason.” It should be very interesting to see what G-D does to Biden. What Biden is doing is beyond belief. The horror of Biden is beyond belief and it’s incredible that nobody says anything. Thousands of people die every day because of that man with Fentanyl coming in over the border and the amount of misery that he has caused America is beyond belief. I saw a statistic that seventy-percent of Americans now regard themselves as “poor.” They can't make ends meet and the one who caused all this is Biden, him and the Democrats.
Participant: Do you think tomorrow is, not a coincidence, but a very big connection between Asarab'Tevet and January 3rd, that they both fall at the same time when there's a shift in power?
R’Kessin: Yes, I think it looks coincidental but it's not. Like I say, there a tremendous shift in power on AsaraB'Teves which is, hopefully, the decree of the shift of power. Tomorrow could be incredibly significant.
Participant: Rabbi, you were in the middle of a sentence, talking about having the decree for the Beis Ha’Mikdash and then you said that you believe it's why we are seeing....
R’Kessin: Maybe I wanted to say that such a decree is why two very good things are turning around. One is, like I said, Israel now has no Eirev Rav in the government, none except Netanyahu, who's Eirav Rav, but he's “Eirev Rav light”; he's a much milder form of the Eirev Rav. Everybody else in the coalition is not. On the contrary, it's a “religious-Right.” That's the first thing. This never happened before in Israeli history, especially with a guy like ben Gvir who could be somebody that we don’t consider who he is. I suspect—you never know—he may become prime minister, because the Ribono Shel Olam needs somebody between now and the Mashiach ben Yosef to preside over Israel. He needs a “middleman,” and the middleman has to be a prime minister that is religious. It's very possible even though people will probably not agree but that's because they don't really understand; you never know. It could be ben Gvir, because it has nothing to do with votes; it's all about G-D. Itamar ben Gvir can be a candidate to become prime minister. If he does become prime minister, then I believe, after him, is Mashiach ben Yosef.
Participant: Does he have to rule his full-term?
R’Kessin: Who, ben Gvir? No, no, it's possible that, if he ever becomes prime minister—it could very well be—it’s not up to the votes, the system. It's up to G-D. He would be the perfect candidate to be what's called the “middle-man,” the interlude between the Eirev Rav and the Mashiach ben Yosef.
Participant: When do they pick their prime minister?
R’Kessin: Elections won't be for another four years but, look, the Ribono Shel Olam has His ways. He has His ways of making anybody He wants to be prime minister, believe me!
Participant: So now I have a question; if the decree is reversed tomorrow and if we get to be able to rebuild the Beis Ha’Mikdash, G-D willing, this year, how do we know it will be reversed, by looking at the news, by looking at what's happening in the world? How do we know?
R’Kessin: We'll know because it happens. We'll know because the Beis Ha’Mikdash, all of a sudden, is being built or is coming down from heaven and there will be an individual who will become very popular, Mashiach ben Yosef. Once he's released from his so-called “prison,” then that's it. He will become very well-known and he will have incredible abilities to change the world. That's what the Ribono Shel Olam says.
Participant: So it would still take time—bottom line.
R’Kessin: Yes. I mentioned the Zohar many times, that 210 years before the end—the end being the English year 2240—is 2030. Well, guess what? we just turned '23. We have seven years before tchias hamesim—resurrection of the dead so Mashiach ben Yosef, the Beis Ha’Mikdash, and Mashiach ben David all have to come in seven years!
Participant: If, tomorrow, it's agreed in shamayim: okay, let's build the Beis Ha’Mikdash, do you think that we're going to be redeemed this Passover?
R’Kessin: It could be. It could be that something significant will happen—Purim, right?—and then Pesach. Look, this year is going to be a very interesting year because of these two major situations: the government of Israel and the government of the United States.
Participant: Why Purim? I'm curious. Why would we see something on Purim?
R’Kessin: ...because Purim is the destruction of Amalek; that's the end of the galus. That's what it signifies. So, Purim is a very appropriate time, and Adar, anyway, is the mazal of Yosef. It's an appropriate time, a very appropriate time. Do you know when the Iraqi War ended with Saddam Hussein?—on Purim. I'll never forget that. The truce was declared on Purim, on the day of Purim itself. There's no question that it's a very propitious time for contrastive events to happen.
Participant: Rabbi, what's the kavanah--intent that we should have? Should we do the Tehilim 79 and 137?
Rabbi: Yeah, sure.
Participant: Should we do it tonight? We should start them tonight?
R’Kessin: Certainly, you could do it tonight because it's Asara B'Teves now, or you can do it tomorrow morning.
Participant: How many times do we have to say it?
Participant: Is it better to say while we're fasting?
Participant: That’s tikkun Leah, very nice.
R’Kessin: Yes, because that's the time that you're doing teshuva, right? It's going to continue to be an exciting year. I told you a lot of stuff so you now see how the Ribono Shel Olam takes very good care of klal Yisrael.